Over the past few weeks Miles Warren/The Jackal has returned and set loose a swarm of genetically enhanced bedbugs on New York. They have infected many normal New Yorkers and given them spider-powers, all of whom have reacted in different ways (See the Infested back-ups in Amazing Spider-Man #659-600 and #662-664). Even Peter’s girlfriend, Carlie Cooper, has displayed spider-powers!
Spider-Man has been guided by Madame Web/Julia Carpenter and the master of Kung Fu, Shang-Chi, up to now but is he ready to face The Jackal’s plot and the deadly woman behind it?!
In Peter Parker’s apartment, Carlie Cooper reveals a great secret to him… by standing on the ceiling and sharing her spider-powers with him! Peter panics, thinking that he’s given her powers after taking their relationship to “the next level” but quickly figures that that can’t be the reason. Carlie is determined to do good with hew new powers and asks Peter to design her tech as well as Spider-Man’s. Peter just needs to do something normal so they go to drop off Aunt May and Jay off at the airport.
Over at The Bowery, Madame Web/Julia Carpenter meets Shang-Chi as they watch over a gathering of crooks covering every major crime family in the city. Shang-Chi readies to attack but Madame Web ensnares him in her psi-web, explaining that the meeting must take place. They watch as Miles Warren/The Jackal arrives with his six clones and two enforcers: Tarantula/Kaine and Spider-King.
Inside the meeting point, the gangsters’ egos inflate and they begin to fight one another, all displaying some spider-powers. Mateo Caldron (from Amazing Spider-Man #663) shows off his powers as well until The Jackal directs his enforcers to bring things to order! Tarantula and Spider-King quickly tear into the gangsters, forcing them to calm down! The Jackal explains that everyone there are his special projects and that they are all going to wearing new gang colours from now. He smashes open a crate filled with various Spider-Man costumes and orders them all to loot, pillage, plunder and steal… Spider-Man’s identity!
At Newark Airport Peter and Carlie say goodbye to May and Jay. May knows Peter is ready to be left on his own and Peter knows that she’ll always be the closest thing to a mother he’ll ever have.
Over in Bryant Park the gang of Spider-Men, all wearing various incarnations of Spider-Man’s costumes, are tearing the place apart! Mary Jane Watson is on the scene but, after rescuing a little boy, she needs rescuing herself from a leering Spider-Man copy. Thing punches him away as Cloak delivers a collection of heroes to the scene. Mr Fantastic, Spider-Woman, Spider-Girl, Firestar, Gravity, Luke Cage, Hawkeye, Dagger, Ms Marvel & Iron Fist assemble!
Peter and Carlie’s cab stops on George Washington Bridge as reports come in over the radio that all of the bridges are closed, that Manhattan is under quarantine and that Spider-Men are running riot! Carlie wastes no time! She leaves the cab and swings off, shouting that this is a job for the “friendly neighbourhood Spider-Cop!” Peter sneaks off and changes into his Spider-Man costume and sets off after her!
In the NYC Emergency Command Center, Mayor J. Jonah Jameson orders his team to clamp down on their airspace and to deploy the entire Anti-Spider-Patrol. He was right about Spider-Man all along!
Wolverine and Red Hulk have joined the fight! Spider-Man arrives and, determined to find Carlie quickly, asks Ms Marvel is she’s seen a girl. Ms Marvel smacks Spider-Man! The Thing punches him! Then Iron Fist pummels him!
Once again, Madame Web and Shang-Chi watch from above. Shang-Chi now has to help his friend and he leaps down into the fray! Madame Web is happy Spider-Man has learned the first lesson: his great powers… are meaningless!
The Spider-Event of the summer kicks off properly here and does so with the type of detailed, layered and managed storytelling expected from Dan Slott’s A-game.
Whilst there’s no real continuation of the intrigue so cleverly established in Amazing #666, Slott focuses on the citywide reactions and repercussions of The Jackal’s plot with the promise of reveals to come. Enjoying the natural reactions of Peter, Carlie, JJJ, gangsters and heroes, you realise that Slott has a firm handle on not only all of these characters but the massive overarching story as well. In no way are any of these characters forced or unrealistic and so the story flows through its first chapter of response.
The only point where the story falters a little is introducing the Spider-Men gangsters. Not knowing enough about Tarantula and Spider-King and knowing enough about gangsters with spider-powers (fairly self-explanatory and already established in the Infested back-ups) unbalances this scene somewhat. It takes five pages to get to the point when actually it could have been done in one and the scene where Spidey gets beaten up by his mates would have benefitted from more page space.
We are provided with a very physical look at three main players I suppose though. Humberto Ramos, potentially elevating himself to legend status if he delivers on the whole of Spider-Island, gives us a great double-page of Tarantula and Spider-King in action (though no powers) and a maniacal shot of Jackal that delivers on the need to see the bad guys.
Ramos meets Slott’s A-game with style. I fall firmly in the “I love Ramos” camp but I understand those who don’t like the lack of realism in his characters. This is his best work to date. There isn’t a questionable panel, or wavering facial structures or wasted space. Everything is designed to deliver visual impact, detail or emotion and it truly does. He captures the touching moment at the airport equally as well as the awesome splash of heroes vs. Spider-Men.
As ever with Slott and Ramos, the little things continuously add to the detail and depth of the story. Mentioning Mateo Caldron again is effortless but nods firmly towards those readers who pay attention and thrive on the meticulous detail. The frankly enormous variety of Spider-Man costumes, choice of heroes who arrive on the scene (all naturally close to Spider-Man’s world), MJ’s funny clone line, Peter simply paying the cab, Slott’s maternal dialogue when he writes Aunt May – all of these make it a story based on character and detail and not just spectacle.
Building on the quality of the Prelude, Amazing #667 is a reactionary comic that begins to scratch the surface of Spider-Island and its repercussions nicely.
Slott and Ramos combine once again to create a visual treat full of quirky moments, set pieces, depth and detail. A great start.